Friday, July 23, 2010

Live from New York

Good morning Tucker fans!  We are blogging to you live from HITS-on-the-Hudson IV, where the Wunderkind is completely living up to his name.  He has been fabulous so far, and I am convinced that I am the luckiest girl in the world.  I can honestly say I'm not taking one second of this for granted.

First of all, this is my favorite horse show.  There are a million places to ride, including a HUGE schooling ring for the hunters (so big it fits about six schooling jumps across the middle, lined up end to end, with plenty of room in between and on either end for multiple horses to pass each other in both directions.  The footing is perfect in the schooling rings, the show rings, even the lunging area.  The rings are a nice size for Tucker, and the lines are set up just right for him.  The jumps are pretty but not intimidating.  Everyone has been incredibly nice, from the people working in the horse show office who patiently answer questions, to the guys at the in-gates who constantly have to juggle the order to get everyone in the ring, to the grounds crew who wait for your horse to walk by before driving their big fork lift past you.  This is just a well-run, beautiful, fun horse show that I look forward to all year.

And the horses!  You have never seen so many beautiful horses in one place in your whole life.  One after another, they parade past you like Breyer horses come to life, in their beautiful tack and their fancy scrim sheets.  You look across the schooling ring and it is a sea of fat, shiny, gorgeous athletes doing their thing.  Back at the barns they walk around peaceful and contented with their day's work, totally comfortable with life on the road.  I love them all.  Hunters, jumpers, eq horses, ponies... they are all spectacular.  I have to force myself not to gawk sometimes, some of them are just so painfully lovely. 

And then there's my fabulous boy.  He has been everything a girl could ask for.  We got here on Tuesday afternoon around 4:30, unpacked, settled him into his stall and then went for a quick lunge until our eyes went back into our head.  Then we joined Alicia and Outsider, Kathleen and Reggie, and Dana and Joe for a ride down in the Grand Prix schooling ring.  Tucker felt springy and loose and so happy to be working.  We worked on some lead changes.  The left-to-right was perfect every time.  The right-to-left we were having a little trouble with, so Alicia watched a few and coached me through it.  The aids are very simple: it's both hands, both legs, keep him straight, send him forward, and then signal the change with an outside spur as he's beginning his canter stride.  He can make things complicated because he starts bouncing up and down or winging his head around trying to grab one rein or the other, but when he stays focused and relaxed, they are easy for him.  We got one after a couple of tries, and then quit with that. 

On Wednesday, Alicia showed him in the Low Hunters, and we think his second round was the best one he's ever done.  He was relaxed, and adjustable, and jumping round but softly.  He was nice and straight through the two-stride.  And he got his changes!  We were leaving it up in the air whether I would show him or Alicia would in the first class yesterday (Thursday) but since he was so fabulous, we decided I would do both rounds. 

Yesterday, I did the Low Hunter undersaddle at 7:30 a.m., and he was 4th out of 12!  Amongst some very fancy horses, so I was extremely pleased with him.  He hacked very well, but got a little worried in the second direction canter when a horse played a little right behind him, so I never got him quite fully relaxed in that canter.  Still though, he didn't do anything naughty despite the commotion behind him, just raised his head a little, so I can't penalize him for it.  Then we had about 2 hours until his turn in the order to do his jumping rounds, so we went back to the barn and put him back in his stall to hang out for a while.  I heard them say they had only seen the first 15 horses at 9:15, so I knew they were running a little behind, and took my time getting ready.  Then we made our way down to the ring (which is about a ten minute walk) and met up with Alicia and the rest of the crew.  (I love our barn.  We all come watch each other's rounds, and it makes me feel so good to cheer on my friends and have them there supporting me.)  Alicia had just done a great round on Outsider so we looked at pictures and joked around a bit before it was time for me to start warming up.

I did some flat work, some shoulder-ins and leg yields to get him accepting both reins, and worked on getting a forward, rolling, balanced canter.  Then we jumped a cross rail and three oxers, and he was perfect, so we headed up to the in-gate.  (I love that he doesn't need to jump much before he's ready for the ring.  It really makes me feel like we are saving him up for a long career.) 

Our jumping classes were awesome!  He was adjustable, and quiet, and I actually had to close my leg a little and send him forward (and remembered to do it!).  When I wanted him to move up, I just had to squeeze a little and he'd respond, and when I needed to collect, I just had to sit up tall and use my seat, without really changing anything in my hand.  Ideal! 

And.... drumroll please... we got our right-to-left changes in both classes!!!  We decided to have me wear a little pair of spurs since he was so quiet the day before, and it made all the difference in the world for the changes.  I usually wear spurs at home, but not in the show ring, because he used to get so forward in the ring.  But now that he's so relaxed and quiet, that doesn't seem to be a concern, and we thought it would help with the changes.   For the rest of the course, I really don't use them, just squeeze with my calves when I need him to move up.   But when I wanted the right to left change in the first class, I asked pretty hard with my spur, and he gave it to me.  Then in the second class, he knew I meant business, and I could feel him setting himself up for the right to left change in that corner, which is exactly what I want him to do. 

In the lines, he was straight, adjustable, and jumping round but not jumping me loose.  He only lost his straightness two times.  One was in the first class, he drifted right in the two-stride, so Alicia reminded me to keep my weight in both heels evenly, and it was much straighter in the second class.  The other time we lost our straightness, we had a long approach to a single oxer on the diagonal, off the right lead, and he just wanted to bulge through his left shoulder and grab the left rein a little, but I think I managed it well.  I decided to sit down, collect the canter and get him straight with my left rein and leg, and add a stride.  We did, the jump was good, and I was able to get him straight by the time we a couple of strides out.  I was a little worried that it was going to look like a chip, but Alicia said I worked it out well. 

So, as I'm sure you can imagine, I am living on Cloud Nine right now.  Today he just goes for a light hack, and then we do the Adult Hunters Saturday and Sunday.  Off to the horse show for me to cheer on the rest of the Whitmere team!



  2. YAY! Thats so awesome that you are living a dream :)

  3. YAYYYYY!!! LOVE this post! Keep up the great show guys :)

  4. Excellent!!! You guys are doing GREAT and deserve it!!

  5. Hooray! This post makes me really happy. I bet it makes you even happier.

  6. Totally BRILLIANT, way to both of you! Enjoying every second is AWESOME.
    Translation: What Nina and OTB said...


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